Boston College ordered by US court to hand over IRA tapes

Boston College ordered by US court to hand over IRA tapes
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
The Guardian
Monday 25 April 2016

An American university has been ordered by a court to hand over sensitive tapes of a former IRA prisoner talking about his role in the republican movement during the Troubles.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is seeking to force Boston College to release the interviews with Anthony McIntyre, who was the lead researcher in the Belfast Project, a recorded oral archive of IRA and loyalist paramilitary testimonies.

The subpoena to obtain McIntyre’s personal interviews has been served under the terms of a UK-US legal assistance treaty and the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003.

Boston College has been ordered to appear at the John Joseph Moakley courthouse in the city on 6 May to deliver McIntyre’s interviews, it was confirmed on Monday.

As well as conducting interviews with other former IRA members, McIntyre himself gave interviews to a guest researcher.

Set up in 2001, the project interviewed those directly involved in paramilitary violence between 1969 and 1994 in Northern Ireland. Participants were promised that the interviews would be released only after their death.

However, the PSNI has been using the US courts in an attempt to obtain the tapes, succeeding up to now only with tapes they claim are related to the 1972 IRA murder of Jean McConville.

McIntyre, who has instructed lawyers to fight the subpoena request, called the PSNI’s pursuit of the tapes “vengeful and vindictive”. “I will not be cooperating in any way,” he said. “I will not break breath to them.”

The Boston Project’s director, Ed Moloney, and researcher Wilson McArthur, said in a statement that the legal move to seize McIntyre’s interviews was a “PSNI fishing expedition”.

“The subpoena request provides no details of specific charge, investigation or offence of which Dr McIntyre is accused, no names of alleged victims, no dates, no places,” they said.

Moloney and McArthur warned that academic freedom was “under siege” due to the pressure on Boston College and challenged the university to resist the subpoena.